The latest word on Barnes & Noble is that one of it corporate investors wants the company to be sold off to a private investor.
From Fox Business:
An activist investor wants Barnes & Noble Inc. to try again to sell itself, arguing the bookseller needs an owner who can invest in its beleaguered operations.
Sandell Asset Management has recently started buying a stake in the New York bookstore chain and is already among its 10 biggest investors, according to people familiar with the matter.
Sandell believes the company could attract a bid of more than $12 a share, compared with a closing price Monday of $7.10, according to a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that is to be released Tuesday.
Even though physical bookstores have declined in popularity in the U.S. in the internet age, Sandell reckons they aren't going away and that Barnes & Noble's status as the only national chain could attract a well-heeled private-equity firm or another retailer.
Sandell isn't proposing to buy the retailer, so it's not clear whether this proposal is serious or just a scheme to boost B&N's stock price and make money.
That said, it's not a bad idea.
Len Riggio has demonstrated over the past five years that he has no clue how to revive/rescue Barnes & Noble. He has continued to run the company as a retailer during a period when it is abundantly clear that the old retailer model no longer works.
Maybe it is time to find another owner, one that could revive the company by finding a new path.
B&N's current dabbling in opening restaurants is a step in the right direction - it follows a trend in indie bookstores of wrapping bookstores around other spaces: bars, coffee shops, or restaurants (like Kramer Books in DC).
And so is B&N's events offering announced last year - or it would be if it weren't so obviously aimed at propping up the existing retail.
Perhaps this is B&N's future:
Really, though, what B&N needs is a fresh perspective that amounts more than just playing musical chairs with management. The company needs someone who will note that both malls and indie bookstores have adapted to the times by turning themselves into event spaces rather than retail spaces - they're now destinations.
Do you suppose Jeff Bezos would be interested?
He can afford it, he loves books, and his leadership has done wonders for the Washington Post.
What do you think he would do with Barnes & Noble?